For Antioxidants, Just Add Mushrooms

They're a rich source of one disease-fighting compound, study finds

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THURSDAY, Sept. 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Mushrooms are a prime natural source of the antioxidant ergothioneine, outdoing either of the two foods previously believed to be better sources, food scientists report.

Researchers at Penn State found that white button mushrooms, the kind most commonly consumed in the United States, have about 12 times more of the antioxidant than wheat germ and four times more than chicken liver.

The finding was made using a technique commonly used to quantify the amount of ergothioneine in bovine tissue. Scientists adapted it for use in food research.

Among commonly consumed mushrooms, portabellas and criminis held even more ergothioneine than white buttons. Exotic mushrooms like shiitake, oyster, king oyster or maitake had the highest levels -- up to 40 times the amount found in wheat germ.

The research was to be presented at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

According to experts, antioxidants are believed to reduce the risk of chronic disease by limiting cell oxidation in the human body.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about antioxidants.

SOURCES: Penn State, news release, Aug. 31, 2005

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